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Workers' self-organisation and Vanguardism

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RB
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Joined: 12-03-15
Mar 12 2015 13:24
Workers' self-organisation and Vanguardism

Hi all. I'm a newbie here, so please forgive the naievty and simplicity of these questions but I'm looking to become informed.

I'm sure this has been debated a million times before, but how does/can the working class organise themselves as a movement without some kind of leadership? Is this actually possible without some form of vanguardism? The idea of workers organising themselves spontaneously like bees is beautiful and appealing but does history actually show that ever working in any meaningful way for any serious length of time without being crushed by the bourgeois state apparatus?

I'm not advocating vanguardism, by the way, just asking how people think workers' self-organisation can flourish in the face of state power/the army etc etc?

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Pennoid
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Mar 12 2015 14:41

Vanguardism, in the form of those first few people to take action is ok.

Leadership is ok. It has to be accountable leadership, responsible to the working class militants who delegate those tasks to a particular leader, a secretary, a treasurer, an organizer, a delegate at conventions etc.

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Agent of the In...
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Mar 12 2015 18:09

RB,

If your referring to how the working class can control its own struggles, then I guess what your asking about is 'organisational form'. On that subject, anarchists often propose the concept of 'federalism' as opposed to say 'centralism'.

The act of workers coming together and organising a strike is an act of leadership, of taking initiative. I wouldn't call that vanguardism, so I would disagree with Pennoid on that one.

Maybe I'm just too averse to that concept, but for me, its when a minority concentrates power in their hands, laying down all the rules and decisions on behalf of the membership, compelling the latter to follow their lead.

Even within directly democratic bodies, 'vanguardists' tend to see the success of that whole organisation as being totally dependent on whether or not they occupy all of the top posts, because without their leadership, there's not much faith to be placed on the membership's ability to collectively manage the organisation and carry out its struggles.

RB
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Joined: 12-03-15
Mar 12 2015 18:14

Thanks, Agent. Sorry for expressing it badly, but I wonder about how workers would organise themselves in a revolutionary situation without being absorbed into a self-declared vanguard party. Without that is it feasible that workers could maintain unity and coherence without fragmenting, whilst at the same time trying to combat bourgeois resistance and so on? Yeah, I know, simple question.

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Pennoid
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Mar 12 2015 18:38

Historically, anarchists used the term and concept of vanguard all the time. We can't let Lenin and the failures of Russia spoil our ideas about communism, vanguard, etc!

On a serious note, I'm not all that beholden to the term, just like to point out that it's meant many things at many points!

jojo
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Joined: 30-06-12
Mar 14 2015 05:29

Doesn't vanguard just mean those whose class consciousness developes quicker and earlier than the majority?